April 3rd 2023, BRANDON MS – I’ve been to OEC JAPANESE EXPRESS in Brandon probably 150 times or more in the past 15 years. So it’s finally time to give an unqualified foodie review of it, from your favorite out of shape, totally unqualified Unfoodie. Yea, that’s me.
I could really write two distinct reviews on this place. One from several years ago, and then another one from 2022/2023. So let’s do both. First of all, who doesn’t like hibachi? Skinny people even love this stuff. Then consider that it’s fast-food hibachi. Even better. Whoever invented fast-food hibachi is alright with me. Regardless of year, you can place an order here, wait 6 or so minutes, and be home a few minutes later to enjoy a 3-lb box of fried rice and your favorite protein.
Mrs Unfoodie digs the sushi here too. The Philly Roll and Ahi Crunch Roll are her favorites. I’d provide a better report on their sushi, but I’ve never tried sushi. And as long as I’m on a roll with that, I wanna keep it that way. No offense to OEC, as my current sweetie loves it.
Inside Counter – OEC Japanese Express
OEC Japanese Express is located in the old Piggly Wiggly shopping center, which I guess is now the Planet Fitness shopping center. That’s perfect for me. Fried rice & steak, with 12 to 16 ounces of their pink sauce (what IS the real name of this delight?), and then over to PF for some cardio. Looking forward to that. If they put a frozen yogurt place in the parcel that PF is planning to rent out, I may never leave the parking lot. Speaking of which, the parking lot can handle the lunch or dinner rush, as OEC has room for 150 or so cars (not that they can get into the location at the same time).
I first ate here in probably 2008, and did so every couple weeks for a few years. I ate there that often, not only because I’m into the food, but I was curious how bad the service could get during the next visit. In those days, it was pretty common to have a young gal at the counter, expressionless, who looked up from the video on her phone just long enough to look at you with the look of “are you gonna order or not?”. Without saying a word or showing an emotion, your order would be placed and sent to the kitchen. And no order number here… they’d just call out most of the content of your order, hoping it rings a bell with someone and they step forward. The service became predictably bad, yet somehow engagingly entertaining. I loved the food just enough to think “how entertaining can the service be today?”, and I kept going back. One day, I literally woke the gal up from her slumber on the counter. Another day, she dragged a metal chair from the front of the store, down the side hallway to the back, seemingly making sure to loudly hit every single grout-line along the way. I may or may not have loudly mumbled “that’s it, honey. Don’t even think about actually picking UP the chair.”
But I digress… as bad and non-existent as the service was back in those days, I still kept going back for the delicious food and pink sauce. Now fast forward to 2022 and 2023, just past the see-through plastic wrap pickup window they used for a year or so during Covid (I think they liked that setup for some reason). The place is remodeled, with new flooring, digital screens have replaced the board menus overhead, and the food is deliciously the same. The counter service is now up to par with other restaurants, there’s a new gal there, and somehow I miss the gal from years ago and “what might happen next”. I used to wonder if Allen Funt was about to walk out from the kitchen (youngsters, think: Ashton Kutcher).
OEC apparently has 8 or so locations in the metro area, but I have no idea if they’re co-owned or connected in any way. We’ve tried maybe two other locations and the food is quite consistent and good. We’ve also found an OEC over in Alabama. I have no idea if that’s a Gump version of our same local OEC, or just a similarly named operation.
In summary, I can tell you that OEC Japanese Express is about as good as you’ll find in the fast-food world. I typically get the Steak Fried Rice which offers more than a healthy portion of rice and lots of steak. I’ve also had their chicken, shrimp, and veggies. It’s ALL good. I’d be willing to pay a $5 deposit on one of those pink sauce bottles, if they let me take one home and swap it out with the next order, but I haven’t been able to pull that off yet. Their Diet Pepsi machine puts out more foam than a beer vendor on the street in the French Quarter, and drink syrup somehow gets on my hand, but many seem to do that. Overall, I give them a solid Unfoodie thumbs up. If you see me there, feel free to speak… but don’t take my bottle of pink sauce to your table unless you’re prepared to defend it. It’s mine.
OEC Japanese Express – Brandon
1564 W Government St
Brandon MS 39042
Operating Hours: 11:00am – 09:30pm 7 days per week
OEC Japanese Express – Brandon Facebook Page: CLICK HERE
OEC Website: CLICK HERE
OEC Order Online: CLICK HERE
OEC’s listing in the Brandon042® Business Directory: CLICK HERE
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